(Part 5 of How to Use SharePoint series)

Alert! Bob is Making Changes Again!

Continuing with the topic of SharePoint lists in the blog series How to Use SharePoint, we’ll now look at a list feature that helps maintain data integrity… Alerting. It’s easy to create an alert in SharePoint that will notify you when specific actions occur. There are several options available, but the most common example is an email when any changes are made to the list.

This can be done with workflow, as well, but alerts can be done by a user through the UI. Further, you can set up an alert for a temporary solution. If you no longer need to know when data changes for a specific list, remove the alert. This is a lot easier than trying to submit a ticket to the workflow team.

Alerts can be extremely granular. If you just want to know when a specific item changes, you can add an alert for that specific record. This may prevent your inbox from filling up with changes you don’t care about. It obviously depends on the size of the list and the number of daily changes.

Creating an alert for yourself is easy. Navigate to the list. Click the List tab. Click the Alert Me drop-down and select Set alert on this list.

alert me dropdown

Give your alert an Alert Title. This is used primarily for you to manage your alerts. I’m just going to mine “Record List Changes.” You can choose multiple people other than yourself to send alerts to. Because I don’t want to spam someone else’s mailbox, I’ll just leave me as the only user to receive this alert.

Most of the time, E-mail is sufficient. If your SharePoint farm is configured to send an SMS message, you will have that option. My farm isn’t configured as such, so I’ll leave E-mail selected.

The Change Type is self-explanatory. Choose when you want to be alerted. For this example, I’m going to leave the default value of All Changes. I will then be alerted whenever any item in this list changes.

change type

In the Send Alerts for These Changes section, you can specify the types of changes necessary in order for an alert to be sent. These are all self-explanatory, so I don’t need to go into detail. I imagine the reasoning behind this section is so you don’t blow up your own Inbox. Presumably, you will be aware of changes you make to the list (unless you’re SharePointing in the middle of a drinking binge), so it may be unnecessary for alerts to be sent on items you change.

You can choose to send an alert only when an item in a specific view changes. For example, you are only interested in items where the Status is Closed. If you have a view that filters for Closed on the Status column, you can choose to send alerts only when an item from this view changes. That doesn’t mean the change must be made in the specific view, only that the item would be displayed in the selected view. If a user is using the All Items view and changes an item’s Status column to Closed, you will be alerted on that change because that item would be displayed in the Closed view.

For this example, I am going to leave the default value of Anything Changes.

Lastly, you can choose when to send an alert: immediately, daily, or weekly. This depends on, of course, your business needs. How frequently do you need to stay informed of changes? How many changes do you anticipate being made? Do you have Inbox rules configured? Once again, I’m just leaving the default value of Send notification immediately.

Now all my options for the alert are configured, I’ll just click OK.

When the alert is configured, you will receive notification as such from SharePoint.

Now whenever an item is changed in the list, an email is sent detailing the changes.

changed item alert

You can see that it details the change that was made (the values next to the Edited label).

Alerts allows you to keep current with changes made to a list. They are easy to configure, do not require IT or a special workflow team, and can be easily deleted to maintain a clean Inbox.

If you’re on a team that owns a business-critical list, I suggest creating an alert. And the next time Bob tries to pass the blame, you’ll have the evidence to prove that he changed the list.

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